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06/29/2023 03:10:35 PM


September 28: The Rabbi We Seek

09/28/2023 04:00:10 PM


Fellow Congregants,

It was a pleasure to see so many Beth Am members at High Holy Day services this year. Special thanks to those who attended our Yom Kippur Study Session, “On Leadership:  Like God on a Good Day.” Your insights into wisdom, compassion, humility, spirituality and leadership were invaluable.

We have now completed our in-depth analysis of input from group and individual meetings, Search Advisory Group input, long-form survey responses, Hazon recommendations, and informal conversations. We are remarkably consistent in what we seek. Our community has identified the following nine priorities, listed roughly in order of importance:

  • A “Big Tent” leader, collaborative, inclusive, able to respectfully engage multiple perspectives and deal with conflict.
  • High emotional intelligence: kind and compassionate, humble and with a sense of humor.
  • Wise and learned, with deep Jewish knowledge, and an excellent teacher.  Curious.
  • A spiritual leader who respects a range of ritual practices, and leads inspiring services with engaging sermons.
  • Experienced in large or medium synagogues, ideally as a senior rabbi; ability to mentor others;  excellent at change management; visionary and innovative.
  • A transparent communicator, capable of using a variety of media and methods.
  • An educator who can teach people of all ages.
  • An advocate for social justice.
  • Someone who reflects a deep love of Israel.

These priorities will be described in our job posting, which we will share with you as soon as it’s published, and will be built into our interview guides.

One congregant has said that what we’re looking for “ like God on a good day.” But maybe we’re on the right track. In the Mishneh Torah, we are taught: “Just as God is called Gracious, you too must be gracious. Just as God is called Compassionate, you too must be compassionate. Just as God is called Holy, you too must be holy.” Each of us is called to imitate God to the best of our ability; we are merely asking the rabbi we call to do the same.

Want to talk informally about the search? We will be sponsoring the First Friday Pre-Neg on Friday, October 6 at 5:30 PM in the Foyer; we’d love to see you there. Of course, you can always send comments or questions to — we are eager to hear from you. Our next update will be coming on Thursday, October 5.


Deb Radin, Ben Lloyd and Loree Farrar
Senior Rabbi Search Co-chairs

September 14: Thank you, Hazon

09/14/2023 01:12:02 PM


Fellow Congregants,

As we enter our period of deepest reflection, it is worth reflecting on the gifts we have received from others in the past year. Of course, I am speaking of the tremendous efforts and thoughtful suggestions of the Hazon Task Force. That work, which is based on input from hundreds of congregants, has been a foundation for the work of the Search Committee. For that we are truly grateful.

Hazon provided over 30 specific suggestions related to the search process, almost all of which will be reflected in some way. Some are relevant to stages of the search that lie ahead of us; others you have already seen. These include:

  • Creating a Search Advisory Group, to broaden the perspectives of those directly contributing to the search
  • Seeking broad input from a variety of stake-holder groups, as well as from individual congregants
  • Deepening involvement of the Board of Directors, specifically with regard to establishing search criteria
  • Maximizing visibility throughout the process

Perhaps the most thought-provoking input Hazon provided was their assessment of the most critical criteria for selection of our next rabbi, based on what they heard from congregants. Hazon recommends that our next rabbi should have:

Experience and skills with operating in a congregation that is similar to Beth Am in key dimensions (education, pastoral care, spirituality, worship, size, diversity of opinions on key topics, supervisory and management skills, etc.)

Not surprisingly, these align closely with criteria that congregants themselves have highlighted in recent listening meetings, survey responses, and individual conversations with Search Committee members.  They will certainly guide our search.

  • Experience and demonstrable skills with helping people with divergent views feel comfortable within the big tent
  • Management skills and leadership experience in addition to other rabbinic skills (e.g. pastoral, teaching)
  • Experience with healing or reducing the impact of polarized views on key topics
  • Patience to develop the trust of the Congregation by embracing what we do now, and only after that trust is there, start envisioning a future, and leading the Congregation towards that future

Thank you, Hazon, for the strong foundation which you have built, and on which we now stand.

As always you can send comments or questions to — we are eager to hear from you. You can also identify us at Beth Am gatherings by our name-tags, which have chairs on them. Our next update will be after Yom Kippur.  We hope to see you on Yom Kippur afternoon, when we will be leading a study session which will  delve into concepts of leadership.

L’shana tova u’metuka,

Deb Radin, Ben Lloyd and Loree Farrar
Senior Rabbi Search Co-chairs

September 7: What you've said so far

09/07/2023 01:00:00 PM


Fellow Congregants,
Thank you for all your thoughtful comments throughout the month of August. As of this writing, we have: 

  • 161 responses to the Invitation to Provide Input
  • 62 requests for individual meetings (by now you should have heard from us to set something up; if not, please drop a note)
  • 8 listening sessions with the Search Advisory Group, including roughly 50 individuals
  • Many, many conversations which inform our thinking

So what are folks saying? We want someone who is both brilliant and humble. Approachable, but with gravitas. Spiritual, and financially astute. As one congregant commented, “When you listen to what we want in a senior rabbi, it’s like God on a good day.” Here’s a word cloud that reflects the most common responses to the “give three words” question in the survey.* There’s a lot to chew on here!

We are analyzing all the comments in depth and will combine that analysis with input from congregant listening sessions, the Board, staff and program team to make our formal description that will be shared with applicants and with you after Yom Kippur. 

As this phase of the process is wrapping up, we will continue to keep lines of communication open:

  • Search Committee and Search Advisory Group members will be easily identifiable at Beth Am events: our name tags will have chairs on them, so you can find us.
  • There will be a study session on Yom Kippur, focused on aspects of leadership that you value.
  • The Search Advisory Group will continue listening.
  • Per your suggestions, Search Committee materials are now available on our website under “What’s Happening,” which doesn’t require logging in.

As always you can send comments or questions to — we are eager to hear from you. Our next update will be after Yom Kippur. We hope to see you on Yom Kippur afternoon to delve into concepts of leadership.


Deb Radin, Ben Lloyd and Loree Farrar
Senior Rabbi Search Co-chairs

*What’s a word cloud? A graphic representation of free text; the bigger the font, the more frequently the word appeared. Our word cloud shows the 60 most commonly used words to describe our next senior rabbi, outside of proper names.

August 30: Two more chances to be heard

08/30/2023 09:30:19 AM


Fellow Congregants,

As mentioned in our previous updates, we have been seeking congregant input for the Senior Rabbi search throughout the month of August. We will use this in our description of our congregation and our needs, which will be available to potential candidates just after Yom Kippur.

You have two more opportunities to provide input which can be used in that document:

  • The Search Advisory Group will be holding an open listening session on Wednesday, September 6 at 7:00 PM in the Beit Kehillah. Anyone who has not yet had the opportunity to join a meeting to share their thoughts is welcome to attend. As with other listening sessions, this will be in-person only; it will not be Zoomed or recorded. Please register so we know how many to expect.
  • The Invitation to Provide Input, which has been open throughout the month, will close this coming Friday, September 1. If you haven’t filled it out already, please share how you’d describe the congregation today, and what characteristics and experiences you’d like to see in a Senior Rabbi. You may reply anonymously if you wish. You can also use this to request a 1:1 meeting with a member of the Search Committee. Visit the input form to provide input on the next Senior Rabbi.

Thank you for your thoughtful input.


Deb Radin, Ben Lloyd and Loree Farrar
Senior Rabbi Search Co-chairs

Kathy Crankshaw and Barbara Ilowsky    
Search Advisory Group Co-chairs    

August 24: Still listening

08/24/2023 01:11:08 PM


Still Listening

Fellow Congregants,
A lot has happened since our note of August 10: 

  • We continue to receive thoughtful responses to the “Invitation to Provide Input,” as well as many requests for individual meetings. Please be sure to share your thoughts about our next senior rabbi by Thursday, August 31.
  • The Search Advisory Group and the Search Committee held a joint meeting focused on listening skills.
  • The Search Advisory Group immediately put that to use as they began their listening meetings with various constituencies. There will be a general listening session Wednesday, September 6 from 7:00-8:00 PM (details will be published shortly).
  • We created a Brit to guide our work, and we reference it at every single meeting. It is available for download (pdf), and also available on our Senior Rabbi Search page at (login required).

Next on the horizon:

  • Continued input from congregants, either 1:1 or in groups led by the Search Advisory Group.
  • Pulling together congregant input with Hazon insights to create a description of the senior rabbi we seek.

We expect our work to slow down a little during the High Holy Days, as we come together as a community and reflect on the past year and the year ahead. After that… full steam ahead!

This week’s Torah portion entreats us, “you must not remain indifferent:” even if it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable, we have a positive responsibility to help our community and those around us (Deut 22:1-3). We are grateful that so many congregants have heeded this call and stepped up with ideas and hard work.

As always you can send comments or questions to — we are eager to hear from you. Our next update will be shared on Thursday, September 7, when we will share what we are hearing from congregants regarding what we’d like to see in our next Senior Rabbi.


Ben Lloyd, Loree Farrar and Deb Radin
Senior Rabbi Search Co-chairs

August 10: Listening

08/10/2023 11:44:27 AM


Fellow Congregants,
A lot has happened since our note of August 2: 

  • The Search Advisory Group has had its first meeting. Ably led by Barbara Illowsky and Kathy Crankshaw, the group includes Barbara Windham, Beate Klein, Bonnie Slavitt, Carol Kantor, Debra Hershman, Ellen Ratner, Ellen Tafeen, Howard Selznick, Jeffrey Berman, Jeffrey Carmel, Joanne Donsky, Keith Loebner, Marlene Levenson, Margo Horn, Rachael Shea, Shannon Stein, Susan Wolfe and Svetlana Bonner. The Search Advisory Group will be spearheading our coming listening campaign, and will provide a breadth of perspectives throughout the search process. Thank you for stepping up to help with this holy work!
  • As mentioned in our last note, we are actively listening to congregants in many ways:
    • We have already received almost 50 responses to the Invitation to Provide Input! Thank you for your thoughtful comments. All congregants are encouraged to share your thoughts; if you haven't yet, feel free to capture them HERE.  The Invitation to Provide Input will be open through the end of August.
    • Search Committee members are meeting individually with any congregant who asks. If you requested a meeting, we will be reaching out within the week to set up a time.
    • The Search Advisory Group is organizing meetings of various interest groups within the congregation during August and September. There will also be a general meeting on Wednesday, September 6 for those who would like to share their ideas in a group setting (details to follow).
  • In its recent Board retreat, the Board of Directors spent significant time thinking about its priorities for our next Senior Rabbi, answering the same questions as are in the Invitation to Provide Input. This will be combined with congregant perspectives to create a unified profile for our next leader.

The word sh’ma, to listen, is the most central word in the most central prayer in our liturgy. Indeed, as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (z’’l) has said, “There is something profoundly spiritual about listening. It is the most effective form of conflict resolution I know. Listening lies at the very heart of relationship. It means that we are open to the other, that we respect them, that their perceptions and feelings matter to us.”

We hope that you will join us on this profoundly spiritual path of listening to each other. As always you can send comments or questions to We are eager to hear from you. Our next update will be shared on Thurasday, August 24.


Ben Lloyd | Loree Farrar | Deb Radin
Senior Rabbi Search Committee Co-chairs

August 2: We want to hear from you

08/06/2023 11:55:02 AM


Fellow Congregants,

As mentioned in our previous updates, congregant input will be a key part of our Senior Rabbi search. This community listening process will extend into the fall, and it starts today. The Search Committee is seeking your input in a variety of ways:

  • The Invitation to Provide Input allows you to provide personal reflections in writing. We’d like to hear how you’d describe the congregation today, and what characteristics and experiences you’d like to see in a Senior Rabbi. (You may reply anonymously if you wish.) Click here to access the document; it will be open through the end of August.
  • Members of the Search Committee are available for 1:1 conversations, ad hoc or planned, and will make sure that your thoughts are preserved. 
  • The Search Advisory Group will be organizing small group meetings with representatives from various stakeholder groups (e.g. parents with children in the educational program, congregants with diverse perspectives on Israel, the LGBTQ community) so that we can hear their unique perspectives. The SAG will also hold a few general listening sessions to make sure that everyone who wants to express their thoughts regarding the Senior Rabbi search can do so.
  • We’ll continue to keep you posted on the progress of the search by providing regular updates in “Next Week and This Shabbat at Beth Am.” Previous posts can be found on the new Senior Rabbi Search webpage.

Again, please take a moment to share your thoughts in the Invitation to Provide Input by clicking here. As always you can also send comments or questions to — we are eager to hear from you.

Thank you!


Ben Lloyd, Loree Farrar and Deb Radin
Senior Rabbi Search Co-chairs

July 27: Search Process overview

07/27/2023 11:36:50 AM


Fellow Congregants,

As we begin this journey together, we thought you might like an overview of the entire search process. There are six key stages:

Our governing body, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) provides both structure and guidance to the process, so that all the congregations are operating on roughly the same schedule as all the rabbis who are seeking new pulpits. All congregations will post their opportunities just after the High Holy Days, and will be meeting and interviewing candidates through the fall and early winter. While this coordination drives some constraints, ultimately it benefits all; we are lucky to have the resources of the URJ behind us.

As congregants, you will be most involved in the Community Listening stage. Your input will be incorporated into our description of ourselves, the Application, and of course will be critical when we get to choosing the best rabbi for Beth Am. You will have many opportunities to share your thoughts; we will be providing more detail soon about hows and wheres.

A quick process check:

Since the last update, the search committee had its first Workshop, developed a brit for ourselves, and built out several of the major work-streams that are outlined in the chart above.

Right now, we are finalizing membership and responsibilities of the Search Advisory Group, and reaching ot to those who had expressed an interest. We are also delving deeply into the recently published Hazon report for learnings both on the search process itself and on Beth Am as a community.

Looking ahead, we will be launching a variety of avenues for listening and input.

Comments or questions? Send them to — we are eager to hear from you. Our next update will be on Thursday, August 10.  


Ben Lloyd | Loree Farrar | Deb Radin
Senior Rabbi Search Committee Co-chairs

July 20: Your search committee

07/20/2023 02:07:43 PM


The Building of the Tabernacle

Moses said, Take from among you gifts to יהוה; everyone whose heart is so moved shall bring them—gifts for יהוה:

And everyone who excelled in ability and everyone whose spirit was moved came, bringing to יהוה an offering for the work of the Tent of Meeting.

And the artisans said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than is needed for the tasks entailed in the work that יהוה has commanded to be done.”

Exodus 35:4-36:5

Fellow congregants,

We are delighted to share that, after much deliberation, we have identified your Search Committee.  As mentioned last week, over 30 talented and passionate congregants offered to help with the search process. We sought committee members who reflect a range of perspectives and backgrounds, who are good listeners and astute assessors, and who are willing to step up to the significant time commitment that the coming months will bring. Here is your search committee (login required), with the unique gifts they bring to the process.

In addition to the Search Committee, we are also gathering a Search Advisory Group, which will ensure that the broadest possible range of perspectives is reflected.  That group is still in formation, and will be finalized shortly.

Looking ahead, the Search Committee will have its first workshop at Beth Am this Sunday.  Priorities will include creating a brit of our commitments to each other; refining the responsibilities of the Search Advisory Group;  and framing out a multi-faceted approach to collecting congregant input. 

If you see any of the new Search Committee members, please thank them for their service.  And feel free to reach out to all of us at with comments or questions. Our next update will be July 27.  


Deb Radin, Ben Lloyd and Loree Farrar
Senior Rabbi Search Co-chairs


July 13: Still building the Search Committee

07/13/2023 10:10:32 PM


Fellow Congregants,

We hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend, starting with the inspiring and delightful adult B’nei Mitzvah on Saturday, July 1 (service recording available for streaming). It was lovely to see so many of you there, celebrating this milestone together.

As mentioned two weeks ago, we are committed to maintaining a highly transparent process, and will continue to keep you abreast of our progress. Here’s where we are this week:

Since the last update, we have reviewed all of the many respondents who expressed an interest in helping the search. So many share such deep love and commitment to our community — it is heartwarming. We are also considering multiple models for congregational input.

Right now, we are reaching out personally to everyone who expressed an interest in helping with the search. We are also finalizing the congregational survey.

Looking ahead, we will finalize and announce Search Committee membership, and will begin to gather the Search Advisory Group. We are eagerly awaiting Hazon’s complete report, which will be available to all of us shortly. This will be a key input into the search process.

Comments or questions? Send them to — we are eager to hear from you. Our next update will be available on Thursday, July 20.  


Ben Lloyd | Loree Farrar | Deb Radin
Senior Rabbi Search Committee Co-chairs

Tue, October 3 2023 18 Tishrei 5784